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Great Yellowcress

Rorippa amphibia

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Brassicaceae (Cabbage)
Also in this family:
Alpine Pennycress, Alpine Rock-cress, American Wintercress, Annual Wall Rocket, Austrian Yellowcress, Awlwort, Bastard Cabbage, Black Mustard, Bristol Rock-cress, Charlock, Common Scurvygrass, Common Whitlowgrass, Coralroot, Creeping Yellowcress, Cuckooflower, Dame's-violet, Danish Scurvygrass, Dittander, Early Wintercress, Eastern Rocket, English Scurvygrass, Evergreen Candytuft, False London Rocket, Field Pennycress, Field Pepperwort, Flixweed, Garden Arabis, Garden Candytuft, Garden Cress, Garden Radish, Garden Rocket, Garlic Mustard, Glabrous Whitlowgrass, Gold of Pleasure, Greater Cuckooflower, Greater Periwinkle, Greater Swinecress, Hairy Bittercress, Hairy Rock-cress, Hairy Rocket, Hairy Whitlowgrass, Hedge Mustard, Hoary Cress, Hoary Mustard, Hoary Stock, Hoary Whitlowgrass, Honesty, Horseradish, Hutchinsia, Hybrid Watercress, Intermediate Periwinkle, Isle of Man Cabbage, Large Bittercress, Lesser Swinecress, London Rocket, Lundy Cabbage, Marsh Yellowcress, Mountain Scurvygrass, Narrow-fruited Watercress, Narrow-leaved Bittercress, Narrow-leaved Pepperwort, Northern Rock-cress, Northern Yellowcress, Oilseed Rape, Perennial Rocket, Perennial Wall Rocket, Perfoliate Pennycress, Pinnate Coralroot, Purple Rock-cress, Pyrenean Scurvygrass, Rock Whitlowgrass, Russian Rocket, Scottish Scurvygrass, Sea Kale, Sea Radish, Sea Rocket, Sea Stock, Shepherd's Cress, Shepherd's Purse, Small-flowered Wintercress, Smith's Pepperwort, Steppe Cabbage, Swede, Sweet Alyssum, Tall Rocket, Thale Cress, Tower Mustard, Treacle Mustard, Trefoil Cress, Turnip, Wall Whitlowgrass, Wallflower, Wallflower Cabbage, Warty Cabbage, Watercress, Wavy Bittercress, White Mustard, Wild Cabbage, Wild Candytuft, Wild Radish, Wild Turnip, Wintercress, Woad, Yellow Whitlowgrass
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Ditches, fens, marshes, meadows, riversides, swamps, water, waterside, wetland.

Yellow, 4 petals
Bright yellow, up to 7mm across. The petals are about twice as long as the sepals.
The fruit are round to egg-shaped, short-beaked seedpods. They are long-stalked and many-seeded. In fruit from July to September.
An erect perennial plant. The leaves are narrow and oblong, variably toothed or lobed. The upper leaves half clasp their stems. The lower leaves are usually short-stalked. Other leaves are unstalked. The leaves alternate along the stems.
Other Names:
Amphibious Yellowcress, Greater Yellow-cress, Watercress.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Rorippa amphibia, also known as watercress or amphibious yellowcress, is a perennial herb in the family Brassicaceae. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North America, and is typically found in wetland habitats such as marshes, fens, and wet meadows. The leaves of the plant are typically dark green and glossy, and it produces small white or yellow flowers. Watercress is considered to be a nutritious food, and it contains high levels of vitamin C, iron, and calcium. Historically, it has been used as a medicinal plant and it is believed to have diuretic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.


Great yellowcress (Rorippa amphibia) is a perennial herb that belongs to the mustard family (Brassicaceae). It is native to Europe and Asia, but can be found in other parts of the world as well, including North America, where it is considered an invasive species.

The plant grows to be about 30-90 cm tall and has a basal rosette of leaves that are lobed and somewhat hairy. The stem leaves are smaller and less lobed. The yellow flowers of the plant are small and have four petals, and they are typically found in clusters at the end of the stem. The fruit is a small, cylindrical silique that contains many seeds.

Great yellowcress is a common plant in wetland habitats, such as marshes, swamps, and along the edges of ponds and streams. It prefers to grow in sunny to partially shaded areas and can tolerate a wide range of soil types.

Despite its common name, great yellowcress is not considered a desirable plant by many, as it can outcompete native plants and reduce biodiversity in wetland habitats. In North America, it is considered a noxious weed and can be difficult to control once established.

However, in Europe and Asia, the plant is traditionally consumed as a leaf vegetable and has been used for medicinal purposes. The leaves and young shoots can be eaten raw or cooked and have a slightly bitter taste. Some studies have also found that the plant has antioxidant properties and may have potential as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Great yellowcress (Rorippa amphibia) is a versatile plant that can be found in a variety of habitats, including wetlands, meadows, and even roadsides. It is a hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of conditions, including drought and flooding. This makes it difficult to control once established, as it can quickly spread and outcompete native plants.

In addition to being considered a noxious weed in North America, great yellowcress can also be a problem in agricultural fields. It can reduce crop yields by competing with crops for nutrients and water. It can also serve as a host for pests and diseases that can affect crops.

Despite its negative impacts, great yellowcress does have some benefits. The leaves and young shoots are edible and can be used in salads, sandwiches, and soups. They have a slightly bitter taste and are often used in place of watercress. The plant is also a source of nectar for bees and other pollinators, making it valuable for supporting local ecosystems.

Great yellowcress also has a long history of use in traditional medicine. In Europe and Asia, it has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including indigestion, respiratory problems, and skin conditions. Studies have also found that the plant has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a potential treatment for conditions like cancer and heart disease.

Great yellowcress (Rorippa amphibia) is a valuable plant for ecological and agricultural research, due to its ability to adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions, and its potential medicinal and nutritional benefits.

For example, it has been observed that Great yellowcress is able to tolerate high levels of heavy metals and pollutants, making it a useful plant for phytoremediation studies, which is the use of plants to clean up contaminated soil and water. This can be useful in the cleanup of industrial sites, mines, and other areas where pollutants have accumulated.

Furthermore, Great yellowcress is a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and calcium, as well as several phytochemicals, including glucosinolates and flavonoids, which have been linked to health benefits, such as reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease.

In addition to its medicinal and nutritional benefits, Great yellowcress is also a valuable plant for wildlife, as it provides food and habitat for a variety of insects, birds, and other animals. For example, it is an important food source for the caterpillars of the orange tip butterfly.

Overall, Great yellowcress (Rorippa amphibia) is a versatile and valuable plant that has many ecological, agricultural and medicinal benefits. However, it is important to consider its invasive nature and potential negative impact on native habitats and agricultural fields, before introducing it or allowing it to grow.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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